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Putin speaks at his campaign headquarters as the election ended Alamy

Vladimir Putin declared winner of Russian election that offered 'no freedom' and 'no choice'

Putin was up against only three tokenistic contenders in an election that was tightly controlled.

AFTER AN ELECTION that offered Russians no genuine alternative, Vladimir Putin has been reinstated as the country’s president, securing another six years.

The official election data showed that Putin received around 87% of all votes cast, according to state news agency RIA.

Voting happened under tightly controlled conditions, where Putin was up against only three tokenistic contenders. His critics and any viable would-be opponents are dead, imprisoned, or in exile.

President of the European Council Charles Michel sarcastically congratulated Putin on a “landslide victory” before the final results were in, saying: “No opposition. No freedom. No choice.”

a-russian-embassy-security-guard-checks-the-passport-of-a-russian-woman-who-queued-at-the-russian-embassy-in-warsaw-poland-sunday-march-17-2024-to-cast-her-vote-on-the-last-day-of-the-three-day-pr A Russian Embassy security guard checks the passport of a Russian woman who queued at the Russian Embassy in Warsaw, Poland on Sunday Alamy Alamy

The OVD-Info police monitoring group said that at least 80 people were detained across nearly 20 cities in Russia for protests linked to the election. 

The Kremlin framed the election as an opportunity for Russians to support the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Voting was held in Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine, though the European Union and Nato both said ahead of the election that they would not recognise the results of such votes.

Delivering a speech in the early hours of Monday morning, just hours after polls closed, Putin thanked citizens for their “support and trust”.

“No matter who or how much they want to intimidate us, no matter who or how much they want to suppress us, our will, our consciousness — no one has ever succeeded in anything like this in history. It has not worked now and will not work in the future. Never,” he said.

He insisted that Russian forces are winning on the battlefield, even though the previous week saw Ukraine launch some of its most significant aerial attacks on Russia and pro-Ukrainian militias stage armed raids on Russian border villages.

“The initiative belongs entirely to the Russian armed forces. In some areas, our guys are just mowing the enemy down,” Putin said.

If Putin completes the term in full, he will have stayed in power longer than any other Russian leader since Catherine the Great in the 18th century. 

The leaders of China, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Bolivia have congratulated Putin on his re-election, with a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson saying that China and Russia “are each other’s largest neighbours and comprehensive strategic cooperatives partners in this new era”. 

However, Ukraine and its allies condemned the election. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called Putin a “dictator” who is “drunk from power” and said there is “no evil he will not commit to prolong his personal power”.

london-uk-17th-march-2024-thousands-of-voters-descended-on-the-russian-embassy-in-kensington-with-some-voters-queuing-for-four-hours-before-they-cast-their-ballot-many-waiting-were-seen-draped-in A protest at the Russian Embassy in London on Sunday Alamy Alamy

Yulia Navalnaya, the wife of Alexei Navalny –Putin’s outspoken opponent who died in an Arctic prison last month — urged voters to flood polling stations at noon and spoil their ballots.

She voted at the Russian embassy in Berlin, where she was was greeted by supporters with flowers and applause, and said she wrote-in her husband’s name on her ballot.

Additional reporting by AFP

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